It’s Just Practice

A few summers ago I decided to improve my basketball skills, and my friend Lloyd, whose couch I told you about yesterday, agreed to help.  He had me complete drill after drill, after drill, after drill, until I was exhausted, and instead of letting me rest, he offered more drills.  I was perplexed; I thought my skill development and drill performance would progress quicker if I was fresh each time.  But Lloyd understood something that I didn’t.  He knew that stamina was the key to basketball success; therefore, he designed the practice to simulate game-time conditions.  In other words, he planned a practice that would make me better.

If David, whose words appear above, was anything like us, then I’m sure he initially had some “issues” with the lions and bears that attacked his sheep.  He may have thought, “If it isn’t one thing, then it’s another.”  But God, the head coach, knew that David would eventually face Goliath, so He let him practice against lions and bears.  Interestingly, the lions and bears gave David the faith he needed to confront Goliath.  No wonder he told King Saul, “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:37, New Living Translation)

My point is simple: what you’re going through is just practice for what you’re headed to.  My friend Karen shared this thought with me, and I think it’s an appropriate conclusion for this email.  Enjoy …

Adversity can be a valuable teacher, allowing us to emerge from our pain stronger than before.  A butterfly illustrates this beautifully.  The butterfly must beat its wings against the cocoon in order to break free.  If someone were to help the butterfly escape by cutting a hole in the cocoon, the butterfly would not have gained the necessary strength and would die.

You can’t stay down because this trial is preparing you for future triumph!

God Knew You Could Handle It

In March 2008, my friend asked me to help him move some furniture.  The task seemed simple: remove his couch (with a pull out bed) from the bonus room upstairs.  When I felt how heavy the couch was, however, and knew I had to lead the way downstairs, I thought we were in over our heads!  The uncertainty racing through my mind must have appeared on my face, for my friend said, “You’re good (slang for capable).  You lift weights every day.”  My friend trusted me to lead the way, for he knew I could handle the assignment.

Sometimes we act like I did in the experience described above.  We magnify the enormity of our circumstances and feel like they’re more than we can handle.  If you’ve ever asked God why, requested leave from your trials, or been angered by His seemingly delayed response, then you know what I’m talking about.  But Paul offers an invigorating reminder for us, “… And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand …” (1 Corinthians 10:13, New Living Translation).  God doesn’t allow trials beyond our limits; He won’t allow anything you can’t handle.

I heard an inspiring analogy that underscores this observation, so I’d like to share it with you.  One of my favorite preachers explained it like this: we’re like fine tailored clothes, and trials are our spiritual irons.  God applies heat to remove the wrinkles in our lives, but He’s wise enough to read the label first.  So if you’re overwhelmed in a trial, remember that God read your care instructions first.  Better, when the fire seems too intense, remember His hand is still on the iron!

Don’t stay down, rather; get up!  If you’re in it, it’s because God knew you could handle it!